FSA poor hygiene ad complaint rejected

A complaint against an advertisement campaign by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), accused of associating lamb with poor food hygiene, has been dismissed by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ad that featured a picture of a lamb dish in a urinal sparked a complaint by Eblex, the National Sheep Association (NSA) and another unnamed complainant, as the companies felt the ad portrayed lamb in a negative way.

The ASA confirmed that it had received four complaints, but believed the advertisement would not be seen as a comment about what the consumer ate, but rather focused on which establishments they ate at and how appearances can be misleading.

Commenting on the rejection of the complaint, the ASA explained: "The image of the lamb cutlets was incidental and was intended to represent seemingly high-quality food in juxtaposition with poor kitchen hygiene. The ad was unlikely to mislead consumers about the safety of eating lamb products in general and as such there were no grounds for further action."

The FSA welcomed the ASA’s rejection of the complaint. Director of communications at the FSA Stephen Humphreys said: “We are pleased that the ASA rejected this complaint. The campaign was designed to challenge assumptions that an establishment’s appearance alone is the best way to judge standards of hygiene.”

He added: “We were simply reminding consumers to check hygiene standards when eating out. We always trusted the intelligence of consumers to realise we were making a point about the food establishments, not the food itself.”

The advertisement campaign, entitled ‘Where are you really eating out?’, was launched in a bid to help consumers choose places to eat out or which shops to go to, in a preventative measure taken to reduce the million cases of food poisoning occurring each year.

Eblex head of trade development Peter Hardwick said: “We are naturally disappointed and maintain that it was an ill-judged choice of image, but accept the ASA judgment.

“However, now that it is aware of the depth of feeling about this image and the potential damage to the lamb industry, we hope the FSA will commit to not using it in any future campaign, particularly bearing in mind the current difficulties the sector is experiencing with lamb losses as a result of the extreme weather.”


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